DOT Extends Disability Protections to Passenger Ships and Boats

On June 17, the U.S. Department of Transportation enacted the first federal rule to provideADA protections to people with disabilities who travel on boats and ships, including cruise ships. So these vessels cannot charge extra for accessibility-related services to passengers, cannot require passengers to furnish their own attendants, and cannot deny access to passengers based on disability. Vessel operators will have to give passengers information about the accessibility of their facilities and services and make a knowledgeable person available to resolve accessibility concerns. The Access Board, an independent agency, is currently developing proposed accessibility guidelines that the DOT will adopt in a subsequent rulemaking. Department of Justice (DOJ) regulations will cover vessels not covered by DOT’s rules, including those operated by private entities not primarily engaged in the business of transporting people, such as fishing charters and dinner cruise boats. The rule is available on the Internet at www.regulations.gov (docket DOT-OST-2007-26829).